Archives for category: Process

I am moving my blog to my website my posts can be found there. Thank you. -R

This Foundling has not been put together yet. The parts are only laying in place to see if this piece is indeed working. I have had this delicate wooden frame for years but scared to use it. The frame is so fragile and at the same time, commands a lot of attention with its beautiful grain and delicate edging. As such, finding a home for it has been very difficult.

If I do put this piece together I will have to carefully drill through the frame at least 11 times so I can bolt the bronze cap nuts to it. Not only do I have a concern about how delicate this is but the drawer pull, the horizontal part obscuring part of the shell, is also something that I am unsure of. I’m just not sure it fits.

Waiting helps. Time gives me the opportunity to reflect on a piece that I am working on. Rushing can cause me to travel down a path that I may not be able to return from (like drilling holes in a delicate frame). So I wait. I will also be going up to the Brimfield Antique Fair in Massachusetts in a few weeks so I can decide later. I may just find something that will work better. You never know.

I am still revisiting work that I have not been completely happy with. It is such a different way of working and yet so similar—not unlike switching from watercolor to oil painting. The basic idea is the same but with a different set of challenges. As discussed in an earlier blog, reworking pieces limits what additional elements I can add and have some parts that are completely inaccessible.

The pattern of the pinecone juxtaposed with the pattern of the frame always appealed to me and yet there just wasn’t enough visual interest to hold the piece together. This wasn’t complex enough for a typical Foundling but not simple enough to be a minimal work.

Having a frame within a frame composition seemed to work but it needed more elements. Adding elements with different textures created a “fugue” of patterns that rather than competing with each other actually “talked” to each other creating a conversation that I am much more satisfied with. Maintaining the two different brown tones helped focus the attention on the pinecone as well.

4 May 2021. I have been exploring glass ingredients of late. The problem arises, however, that if I use too much glass these works can start to look like lamps but I do enjoy the pristine quality of glass so I figure it’s worth the risk.

Recently I had a problem with how to attach the horizontal glass condenser tube to this piece. If it’s permanently affixed (glued in some way) it would make this work too fragile and glue tends to be messy. If it’s not securely attached, how do I make sure that when this is on display, that the glass is safe?

One of the many mysteries of my creative process is that I can frequently “solve” creative or technical issues in my sleep. It’s not that I actually dream of solutions but it would seem that I tend to mull over aspects of my work during that twilight period when I am not really in a deep sleep but not in a waking state either. I would guess somewhere between 4:00 and 7:00 am. I don’t plan to “work” on a problem in my sleep, it just happens. 

As with my other creative pursuits, it seems my talent is less about my mastery of technical skills and more about my ability to be creative when I need to be creative. I don’t understand this process but I would assume that I am not alone in this ability. This surely has helped me in creating my Foundlings and the joy in “solving” a problem is so fulfilling.

And my solution to the glass tube? Vertical posts. I can slide the tube onto the posts when on display and safely store the tube with packing material when shipping it. Problem solved.

This is Glassworks I and is 7″ x 11″ x 5″.

17 March 2021. I have often commented on maintaining a fresh perspective when creating Foundlings as it is so easy to get lost in the process.

Usually a change in my perspective helps. Waiting a day or two enables me to see a work in progress with fresh eyes. Fresh eyes are needed as it is so easy to be blinded by the new. This is not unlike stepping into the daylight from a dark room, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to a new piece.

To be able to see through the shock of the new takes a great deal of effort as there is much distraction in the process as well as the excitement in finding a place for that element that seems to finally complete the work. But caution is advised. It is just too easy to follow a wrong path that takes you far from where you had needed to go.

In this case, what I believe is a circular fish trap, waited a long time to find a place. It has a beautiful texture and yet it was so difficult to integrate it into a Foundling. This texture, as beautiful as it is can easily overwhelm. My hope is that when the entire piece is stained, the trap will integrate in a subtle monochromatic kind of way.

The base for this work, the stained box with interior brown elements, is another of these older Foundlings that never really lived up to my hopes. With this renewed effort, like with the other pieces that I have “pushed”, this work will finally get to where I need it to go.

Only time will tell if this piece will come together in a way that I am satisfied with, but in the meantime, standing on a step ladder to get another view, always helps.

It’s not a personal invitation nor is it a solo exhibition but it is my first time to be shown in a museum. Two works have been accepted into the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum juried show called “Socially Distant Art: Creativity in Lockdown”. I deliver the work to the museum in Connecticut at the beginning of April. By that time, Marie and I should be fully
vaccinated and I consider this a fitting occasion to the end of the pandemic and my lockdown.

I have made no secret that my goal is to be in a museum. Admittedly an arbitrary goal but non-the-less, a goal that appealed to my ego. I have long thought that I had the hand skills to be in a museum but I did not know what my voice was. I have since found my voice and I have the conviction in what I have to say. Clearly this is still but a step on a long path but looking back on what I have accomplished, I have come a long way.

The thought does occur to me, once I have attained my goal of being in a museum, then what? Am I done? Does that change anything? We shall see.

In my 20 November posting, I wasn’t sure if this piece was done. Throwing caution to the wind, I had it framed. Frequently having the work framed finalizes it in a way that makes a work complete. At other times, the frame merely highlights the fact that the Foundling still isn’t really finished. This time it turned out that this Foundling wasn’t ready. So this piece stayed in my studio, waiting. The question always is, waiting for what?

Continuing to work on a piece that is already framed makes the process difficult. The fact that it is mostly a completed work limits the access I have to the underlying structure and the frame can get in the way. As discussed, I build these Foundlings in a way to make sure that they don’t come apart in the future… or in transit, so the engineering needs to be secure.

It turns out that this work was waiting for the familiar theme that I return to time and time again, the square and circle. The circular frame completes the Foundling by reinforcing the circular focal point. The focal point, a ruffled lamp shade, made of white milk glass, has that radiant quality that I am so fond of but this glass element is always difficult to work with (don’t ask). There is also a bit of tension between the overall square shape of the work, all of the squares in the background and the rectangular frame. I waiver between this element fighting the overall square theme or adding to the square theme by being unexpected. Never-the-less I am finally pleased that Mandala II is now complete. It is 20″ x 20″ x 5″.

28 January 2021. Unlike silver, the gold and brass tones I work with have an inherit antique quality to them. That is not to say that silver always looks “new” just that the brighter quality of most silver can have a shocking quality next to the dark wood. Sill, I have had much success working in silver.

Working with material that is worn or tarnished, I have come to appreciate that when I am finished with a work, nature my not be. Having pieces that tarnish more, like brass,
only add to the timeless quality that I am trying to capture.

Like brass, copper’s warm tone works very well with the dark wood but copper presents a particular problem. If I seal the copper it will stay a bright copper color. If I leave the copper without a coating, sometimes it will tarnish a beautiful turquoise color and other times, darken in a more brownish direction. This makes it particularly difficult to know exactly how a work will evolve. Perhaps this is a good thing as it reminds me that even if I am the “creator” so much of this process is out of my control. As in watercolor painting, there are “accidents” were the colors “bloom” in a way that is not completely controllable… no matter how expert you are with the medium.

Most of my creative process is an exercise in following where the ingredients take me. It is a reminder of just letting go. Understanding that I am not in complete control is another lesson that these Foundlings teach me about life. A lesson that I am grateful for. This is Mandala I and is 20″ x 20″ x 3″.

It is difficult to see yourself accurately, to access your own work and by extension, to see how your skills have improved both aesthetically and technically. I am not handy by nature and I am not naturally comfortable around power tools and yet, here I am, with more tools and skills than I could have ever imagined.

I have spent the last month or so not creating, or at least not creating Foundlings but in making a more efficient workspace. Clearly, having the right tool for the job is critical but having a space that is conducive to working is just as important. I have found that if you don’t “see” the tool, you don’t use it so I have set out to make the tools visible and the space more efficient with clear surfaces to work on.

I had a very productive past year producing more than 23 pieces. Due in part to the pandemic, I was in the workshop more. I am excited to see what this new year will bring — more creativity, more pieces and perhaps, more importantly, a return to normal times.

An early work that was completed when I was less familiar with the direction I was heading in. It was so easy to fall in love with the tones and textures of the individual parts but I lost sight of the total piece. So it languished… for years.

Perhaps the most difficult part about working on a “completed” work is less about where to take this Foundling but more about how I was to get there. With the piece already assembled, certain areas are just not assessible. Yet another challenge added to helping this work find its way.

The carved wood, so beautiful and bold was difficult to find a home for as it easily overwhelmed almost any work it was attached to, until this piece. Using it upside down the carving echoes the center piece and reinforces the brass laurel.